LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With Louisville facing fourth-and-goal, 18 inches away from a tie score, linebacker Stanquan Clark sensed what Indiana would do.
Then the freshman a read that took him the Hoosiers backfield where he stuffed Josh Henderson with 4:38 to go and waited for his teammates to help prerserve a 31-21 victory over Indiana.
“I’d seen that play coming,” Clark said. “I watched film all week, so I knew it was going to be a power sweep.”
Officially, he had just three tackles. But it was the last, memorable one that will go down as the play of the day and perhaps the play of the year for the Cardinals.
First-year coach Jeff Brohm has his alma mater off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2016. Brohm also got his first win at Lucas Oil Stadium. He’d lost in the building twice before — first to Louisville in his debut as Purdue’s head coach in 2017 then to Michigan in last season’s Big Ten championship game, which ended his Boilermakers tenure.
But after a dominant first half had the Cardinals leading 21-0, they couldn't secure the victory until Clark and T.J. Quinn corralled Henderson well short of the goal line and the offense ran out the clock.
“I wish they could all be pretty, and we could dominate every game, but I applaud our guys — they fought to the end," Brohm said. “They dove in there, we manned up and figured out a way to win.”
The bigger question was why Indiana (1-2) called a slow-developing handoff to the deep back rather than letting new starting quarterback Tayven Jackson line up under center and plunge ahead?
“It didn't work so you, obviously, wish you would have done something else," Allen said. “You've got the ball on the 6-inch line, knock them off the football and go score. I don't care what you call."
But without some aggressive play-calling and a promising second half from Jackson, just five days after winning the job, the Hoosiers wouldn't have even been this close.
After Jamari Thrash opened the first half with an 85-yard TD catch and Jawhar Jordan closed out the half with a 25-yard scoring run, the Cardinals appeared to be in complete command — until Allen opened the second half with an onside kick the Hoosiers recovered.
It took Jackson three plays to find Jaylin Lucas for a 30-yard TD pass — the first of Jackson's career.
Two series later, Jackson deftly engineered a 97-yard drive, capped by Henderson's 2-yard TD run to make it 21-14 late in the third quarter. Jackson nearly tied it up himself when he lunged toward the goal line and put the ball on the pylon but a replay review showed him short of the goal line and Henderson was stopped short on Indiana's final play.
“We spend a lot of time preparing for goal line,” Brohm said. “Just a tremendous stop.”
Louisville: It certainly wasn't pretty in the second half, but Brohm's players got the job done. While some may complain those three wins came against two lower-tier FBS teams — Georgia Tech and Indiana — and an overmatched FCS foe Murray State, Louisville is halfway to bowl-eligibility.
Indiana: While Jackson played well in the second half, this loss may prove costly to the Hoosiers' bowl hopes. Indiana's best chance of reaching the postseason for the first time in three years was to sweep its non-conference opponents.
The Hoosiers were missing their top cornerback, Nic Toomer, and lost starting guard Max Longman in the first half. Longman went to the locker room with what appeared to be an injured right leg. He was replaced by Matthew Bedford, the usual right guard, who was listed as questionable before the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
Louisville: Jack Plummer was 13 of 23 with 238 yards, one TD and one interception. ... Thrash had four catches for 159 yards. Jordan had 18 carries for 139 yards. ... Maurice Turner scored his first career TD. ,,, Brohm improved to 5-1 against Allen with all of the other meetings coming in the annual Indiana-Purdue series. ... The Cardinals beat the Hoosiers for the first time in three tries.
Indiana: Jackson went 24 of 34 with 299 yards, one TD and one interception. ... Lucas had eight carries for 29 yards and 10 receptions for 98 yards. ... It took Indiana six quarters to score its first touchdown against an FBS opponent this season. The Hoosiers needed less than 13 minutes for their second. ... Indiana has lost 10 of its last 12 games.
Louisville: Opens ACC play at home against Boston College next Saturday.
Indiana: Hosts Akron next Saturday in prime time.